Kyle Turris Keeps Rising to the Challenge

At the moment that Kyle Turris was selected as the third overall pick in the 2007 NHL Draft, he was projected to be a first line center.

The process may not necessarily have been as smooth as prognosticators may have envisioned, but seven years later, Turris is pencilled in as the Ottawa Senators’ first line center.

Okay, so in truth, part of his ascension to this prominent role has as much to do with Jason Spezza leaving as it does with his own growth and development since joining this organization, but to Turris’ credit, he has passed every test that each season has brought him.

In 2011/12, could Turris play and produce at a level that could: a) erase concerns over unfounded character issues that stemmed from his contract negotiations and obvious displeasure over his usage and development with the Coyotes; and b) ease prospect porn indulging Sens fans who overvalued and grew too emotionally attached to David Rundblad?

He did and rewarded Ottawa right for gambling on a player who posted impressive production rates proportionate to his ice time in Phoenix.

In 2012/13, could Turris maintain the previous season’s production levels in the absence of Jason Spezza – who missed the final 43 games of the lockout shortened season thanks to a surgical procedure on his back?

Thanks to a rigorous offseason regimen under the direction of Chris Schwarz, Turris made significant gains in his physical development and it resulted in a better, stronger and more confident player on the ice. Even though it was a shortened season, Turris’ performance helped push the Senators to an unexpected playoff berth.

In 2013/14, what could Turris do for an encore? At 24-years of age, could he continue to improve and take his game to another level now that he was insulated with the presence of Jason Spezza?

He ultimately wound up just short of his quest to be a 30-goal center, but he played the full 82-game schedule and thanks to his undeniable chemistry with Clarke MacArthur, Turris set career highs in goals (26) and points (58) while playing against the highest relative quality of competition level that he’s ever had to face in his career.

Kyle Turris’ success story is one of the most positive things that has happened to the Senators in years, but usually whenever Turris’ name is brought up in conversation between Senators fans, the exchange usually hits on the following points: 1) the move that sent David Rundblad and a second round pick to the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange has widely been accepted as Bryan Murray’s best trade to date as the general manager of the Ottawa Senators; 2) damn, that contract looks good; 3) he really loves that golden retriever of his; and 4) yeah, he’s a good center, but ideally, he’s probably a second line center on a Cup contending team.

Regarding the latter point, even Senators general manager Bryan Murray echoed this sentiment by outlining his long-term outlook of the team – envisioning Turris in a second line center capacity when Mika Zibanejad develops into the team’s first line center.

The thing is, as a young center who keeps rising to the challenge, shouldn’t we just hold off on this assessment until after this season when we’ll have a more accurate depiction of Turris’ ceiling?

Sure, maybe cynics could to the loss of Spezza and the likelihood that Turris’ line will face the opposition’s top defensive pairing on a nightly basis or perhaps they could point to Turris’ on ice shooting percentage at five on five last season (10.37) and say that it was substantially higher than his previous two seasons and as such, it stands to reason that Turris’ line could be a little less fortunate next season.

On the other hand, maybe this spike in on ice shooting percentage can be explained (at least in part) or at least attributed a little bit to playing with MacArthur and Bobby Ryan and maybe, there is also the possibility that the newly acquired David Legwand could be used to take away some of the tougher defensive forward assignments and because of that, Turris’ already dominant puck possession line gets more favorable zone starts – which in turn, would hopefully lead to more opportunities to score.

As a player who’s already shed some labels, there’s still time for Turris to shed one more.

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